Problems for the Pickens' Plan

It is a relatively cool, overcast day here in Cambridge, MA, a little damp, with only the occasional tree moving in almost 24 hours. But yesterday I was chased up the New York Thruway by a storm carrying hail and cutting visibility to yards. These weather conditions suggest that today is not a good day for the prime candidates promoted as the sustainable fuels of tomorrow, here in the Northeast: wind and solar.

The larger blow to the sustainable energy story today, however, is not the chill of an autumn day in July in Massachusetts, but rather the colder stillness of the lack of movement by Boone Pickens on his wind farm in Texas. The reasons for the turn around depend on who you read.

The Wall Street Journal notes:

Mr. Pickens, who has spent the last year pushing his "Pickens Plan" to reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil, said the wind farm project was scuttled in part because of the lack of adequate transmission lines to carry the electricity from remote locations to cities. He had hoped to build new transmission lines but ultimately was unable to secure financing.

Natural gas-fired power plants are direct competitors to wind farms and other forms of clean energy. Natural gas prices have fallen about 70% from last year's high, making wind less attractive as a source of power.

while Daily Finance noted the problems of raising money:

Pickens, 81, was undaunted declaring at press conference on Capitol Hill, "I didn't cancel it ...Financing is tough right now and so it's going to be delayed a year or two."

"Cancel" may not be the right word. How about review? Pickens, who gained fame as a corporate raider in the 1980s, was planning to build the world's largest wind facility, at a site in the windy, flatlands near Pampa, Texas, which would generate enough electricity to power about 1.2 million homes.

The initial problem that Mr Pickens faces is that he has ordered the turbines and “like I said, my garage won't hold them," the legendary Texas oilman said. "They've got to go someplace."

There are 687 turbines involved, each to produce 1.5 MW of power and the question of where to put them, given that there are problems with the initial siting due to the need for connection to the grid, is likely to be a challenge. The problems have been visible for some time. Back in November there were signs that the credit crunch was hurting the program, and the drop in natural gas prices (which were the other half of the coin) has meant that there is no rationale for changing from natural gas to wind at the present time.

On the other hand, back this time last year the Texas legislature approved putting in the connections to bring the wind power into the grid.

Texas regulators have approved a $4.93 billion wind-power transmission project, providing a major lift to the development of wind energy in the state.

The planned web of transmission lines will carry electricity from remote western parts of the state to major population centers like Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio. The lines can handle 18,500 megawatts of power, enough for 3.7 million homes on a hot day when air-conditioners are running.

The project will ease a bottleneck that has become a major obstacle to development of the wind-rich Texas Panhandle and other areas suitable for wind generation.

The transmission lines are needed since, at present, there is more capacity than can be delivered through the existing grid.

"When the amount of generation exceeds the export capacity, you have to start turning off wind generators" to keep things in balance, said Hunter Armistead, head of the renewable energy division in North America at Babcock & Brown, a large wind developer and transmission provider. "We've reached that point in West Texas."

Unfortunately that plan, shortly thereafter, ran into the Justice Department. The initial idea had been to integrate a water pipeline into the right-of-way so that Mr Pickens could also pipe water to Dallas and the water-short folk in East Texas from his holdings in West Texas.

At the time, Mesa General Counsel Bobby Stillwell said the company "got too clever."

Said Stillwell: "We had thought that doing them jointly would be a convenience and maybe even a cost savings to us and the landowners. There were two things that we misjudged. To do that we would have to acquire a 250-foot right of way instead of just a 150-foot one for electricity. That was enough difference to the landowners," he said.

"Secondly, they were criticizing the whole project, both water and electricity, when they were really concerned about water. We didn't want both to be subject to the same criticism."

And so, last September, the water pipeline idea was scrapped, then the plan to use the wind power to displace natural gas was also put aside, and now the idea of the large wind farm itself has had to be laid aside.


Pickens continues to buy up water rights and says he expects to build smaller wind farms in Texas, as well as in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Wisconsin. He's still hopeful about his hedge funds, too.

This is occurring just as the President is sending out a team to encourage rural America to become involved in sustainable energy. It is not the best juxtaposition of events to see the sales pitch for wind included in their statements.

Wind energy offers rural landowners a new cash crop. Although leasing arrangements vary widely, royalties are typically around $2,000 per year for a 750-kilowatt wind turbine or 2% to 3% of the project's gross revenues. Given typical wind turbine spacing requirements, a 250-acre farm could increase annual farm income by $14,000 per year, or more than $55 per acre. In a good year, that same plot of land might yield $90 worth of corn, $40 worth of wheat, and $5 worth of beef." (Original Blogger's note: This report and its numbers are 5 years old. I've heard of lease payments of $5,000 per turbine.)

So just as I thought that wind was taking the commanding lead in the alternate energy stakes, we have days like today. Such events are bound to slow the growth of alternative fuels to the fossil fuels we now use, which makes the ongoing concern about the long-term viability of supply of those fuels (worrisomely summarized by Sam Foucher a few days ago) that much grimmer news.

Thanks, Dave, for your summary of this. I hadn't realized how many pieces of this proposal had gone wrong--pretty much all of them, it sounds like.

One that you didn't mention is the fact that US electrical demand is down in the past year. Because of this, there is less need for additional electrical production capacity. I wonder if this will have any impact of Boone's ability to find other places for his wind turbines. I suppose if there are mandates that a certain share of power come from renewable sources, utilities will add wind turbines, even if demand is down. If fixed costs are the same (actually increasing because of wind), and variable costs are down by only the reduction in fuel costs (coal or low-cost natural gas), it seems like this will mean that electrical prices will rise for the consumer, if wind is added.

Rising electrical costs for the consumer are a good thing !

I just spent several months in Kentucky which prides itself on it's cheap coal fired electricity. I saw waste EVERYWHERE !

In a vast majority of places, modest consciousness and investment could have cut the use in half with no impact on the quality of life (fixing leaky ducts and weatherstriping doors & windows actually improves the air quality).

Double the price, cut consumption in half, no net economic impact except the investment.

Best Hopes for Price Induced Conservation,


Electric costs in Ky.

Well I do not consider it cheap.

Here is the results of the bill I just received today.

565 kwh usage divided by price = 13.329 cents per kwh

If I add it the taxes that go with it then it comes to 15.488 cents /kwh

It has been escalating rapidly over the last year or two. The service frankly is sucky. I lost a freezer worth of about $300 of food and not counting the cost of the dead freezer. Then I lost a refrigerator of badly decomposed food just a couple weeks ago due to a total of 18 hours outage in a 24 hr period.

The freezer due to a continual cycling of power about 30 times. Blew the compressor motor.

I won't even speak of the massive ice storm where extremely shitty infrasturcture caused 6 weeks of outage and some even longer.

Seems that a slight blow and some rain and we are without power for hours each time.

This is ridiculous for the rates charged and NO oversight since its a co-op...unregulated and they take advantage of it.

What can one do? Nothing. They buy the power from TVA. TVA sucks also in my opinion. I once took a trip to Chattanooga Hdqtrs to interview for a job in their computing center. I spoke to what were supposed to be managers of that center. I turned the job down for they were lucky to even find their shoe laces. A bunch of no ops. Clueless in the extreme.

Airdale-it used to not be this way but then they brought in a new mgr at the co-op who was still burnishing his MBA and knew how to really squeeze the consumers. Its disgusting and will get worse.

Kentucky Utilities (owned by Eon (German In think) has considerably lower rates. Service seemed to be acceptable @ Georgetown.


KU is owned basically by LG&E of Louisville. There was formed a holding company that is owned by LG&E and under this is KU.

This may have changed in the years since the Y2K time frame. I do not remember the name of the holding company/corp.

I was doing contract consulting of both parties when this came about.

The name KU is still used however.

KU supplies most of the states power but not all. There are many Rural Electric Co-ops and in my area they abound.

What is your kwh rate then in Georgetown?

KU was once a very good company but changes came about.

Like I said, my coop buys power from TVA. And when rates go up they blame it on TVA.


The KU trucks have "An eon Company" under the logo. A quick search found that lists KU.

E.ON U.S., headquartered in Louisville, Ky., is a subsidiary of E.ON A.G., the world's largest investor-owned energy services provider.

Per the on-line filing, the base residential rates are $5/month plus $0.05879 per kWh plus various taxes & fees with a fuel cost adjustment.

This coincides with my somewhat vague memeroy from my once a year accounting for my father of the farm expenses. Total bill/kWh is about 7 cents/kWh.

Your co-op will have to recover the massive costs (with little revenue that month) from last winter's ice storm. Sure to impact the bills.


Rates were up before the ice storm.

The ice storm repairs were paid by the US Government as a Federal disaster was declared.

The utility in fact profited since many of their infrastructure was replaced for basically FREE.

When I brought this farm I was paying about 6 cents kwh. I have kept track of every bill.

Storm did not impact bills. But they allowed them to increase with the thought by the populace that is exactly as you state. They 'assumed'.

Lots of folks made lots of money off our misery. The cost for all these trucks to pick up the debris was $4.07 per cubic foot. Wow.

Yet the county was not out and the utilities was not out. Money that is.

In fact many profited as I stated. And I can likely bet that boom trucks from other parts of the country had men paid very very well.

What was NOT told very well was the churches and men who on their own DIMES came and cut downed trees and helped landowners but COULD NOT go near the right of ways.

I myself spent 6 hours on the first day cutting trees off the state hwy that comes thru..and doing it going back in. Then again the next day and the next day. It was quite a few days before ANY HELP arrived. Except for the church men of course who came right away and brought their own food and sleep in the churches nearby.

My own church would not even offer hot coffee and instead asked others to help them!!!!! Did NOTHING. The other churches opened up and heated food on propane grills. Mine? Zero.

It was the residents who helped each other and came together. I worked on getting generators going and hooked into houses. While I had no generator of my own due to letting others have them.

I got a very good close look at how emergencies are handled.

It was atrocious. It was ugly. It was administration at its very worse. I will never forget it and you should have read all my very copious POSTS during the whole time and event. Thats what I said then and what I say now.

Its like you got this idea about things that are simply not reality.

As for LG&E..perhaps they sold out.. But not when I was there on Y2K. Or else it was all very mysterious and hidden.

Just like the ice storm me and the other systems programmers worked our nuts off and were not even given an 'attaboy'. The manglers copped all the good stuff while making embarassing mistakes and plans.


Lots of folks made lots of money off our misery.

How is that different than any other day - 'cept it was you who got the short, brown sticky end of the stick this time?

I got a very good close look at how emergencies are handled.
It was atrocious. It was ugly. It was administration at its very worse.

Do feel free to show any government that does not have "atrocious" or "ugly" to describe some of the responses to emergencies.

I'd note that our government did pretty well through the '90's.

Not perfect, but a lot of the failings of recent years would simply not have been tolerated.

Now, well, "Who could have known?"

Bill Clinton saw the failure of the older Bush after Hurricane Andrew (and the political fallout) and decided to make FEMA attractive and well operated.

More than one Beltway commentator noted that Clinton liked to visit disaster areas and bask in the afterglow of a job well done (and show his concern for those suffering, the "I feel your pain"). Good sound bites and photo-ops.

I never felt the same as the commentators, I still believe that politicians should rightfully bask in the applause for a job well done. We are well served if good policy is good politics.

GWB appointed the college roommate of his 2000 campaign director, a man who had been "asked to leave" because he could not properly organize a horse show. The results were predictable, and it shows R priorities.


NO oversight since its a co-op...unregulated

Co-OP is a specific legal term.

Same with unregulated.


An association or corporation established for the purpose of providing services on a nonprofit basis to its shareholders or members who own and control it.

The control is shareholders or members. If yours is a member co-op and you use the system as a member - you are an owner. Otherwise control is with the shareholders. Someone has to own the shares to then control the corporation. If you opt to not own shares or excersize the power of the ownership you have - that does not mean "NO oversight"


without regulation or discipline


controlled or governed according to rule or principle or law

1) You have identified them as a co-op. Typically exist under the governance and structure of the state.
2) For your claim to be correct, this power company must not have the US norm of right of way, or even Federal control.

If the lack of government control is bothersome WRT electrical power - might I suggest moving to someplace with effective government control?

Just because something did not go airdale's way does not mean there is no oversight.

What can one do? Nothing.

More BS. One can take charge and make their own power via wind or PV (or hydro) Model it after the bellcore -48vDC model. Then your EQ has a buffer to power fluxations.

Only industrial demand is down YOY:

Electricity_Sales_YOY_2007-2009.png (42 KB)

My usual jaunt over to Google News yields the following:Record electricity demand in Texas; conservation urged; conservation urged | record, conservation, texas - Now -

July 9, 2009 - 11:17 AM
Jared Taylor
The Monitor

McALLEN — The recent heat wave has pushed electricity demand across Texas to an all-time record on Wednesday.

The Electricity Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, is urging businesses and consumers to cut their electricity use during peak demand hours, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. today.

Much of Texas — including Hidalgo and Starr counties — remains under a heat advisory from the National Weather Service throughout today.

The temperature was 101 degrees at the McAllen-Miller International Airport shortly before 2 p.m. Thursday and is expected to reach a high of 104 by later this afternoon.

Businesses and consumers are encouraged to:
>> Set air conditioning thermostats to 80 degrees or higher.
>> Cool with fans.
>> Close blinds and drapes on windows that get direct sun.
>> Turn off all unnecessary lights, appliances, and electronic equipment.
>> Avoid using big appliances between the hours of 3 to 7 p.m.

ERCOT operates the electrical transmission grid for most of the state and set a new record Wednesday afternoon. The operator issued a "Power Watch" on Thursday, meaning high electricity usage was expected.

So in Texas anyway A/C is trumping slowdown in smelting or whatever they need the juice for down there.

Anecdotal evidence: here in western Oregon we're having about the mildest summer imaginable, and the NE is "enjoying" plenty of downpours, so perhaps residential/commercial demand will be curbed to some extent.

The drop in industrial and commercial demand in some cases is surprisingly steep, as illustrated below:

We Energies said in its updated filing that its electricity sales to large commercial and industrial customers are projected to drop 13.6% this year and recover only slightly, by 0.2%, next year. Sales to smaller business customers are projected to drop 6.9% this year and another 1% next year, and sales to residential customers are projected to grow slightly this year, by 0.6%, but then fall next year by 0.3%.


Clark Public Utilities reports that electricity sales to industrial customers is down 18.3 percent this year through May from a comparable five-month period in 2008.

Lower sales to the industrial group, which includes high-tech customers Hewlett-Packard, SEH America, and Sharp Microelectronics Corp., indicates that many Clark County manufacturers have shut down or reduced production, said Mick Shutt, utility spokesman.

Taken as a whole:

U.S. electricity demand is expected to drop 2% this year amid continued weakness in the industrial sector, the U.S. government said Tuesday.

In its monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook, the Energy Information Administration lowered its power consumption projections for this year and next year, seeing only a 0.8% rebound in demand in 2010. The EIA last month had projected a 1.8% drop in demand for 2009 and a 1.2% increase in 2010.

"Retail sales of electricity in the industrial sector continue to decline, having fallen by 12% during the first quarter of 2009 compared with year-ago levels," the EIA said.



Yes, my graph shows all of that, although commercial use only fell short slightly, is catching up with last year's levels and could match them, barring a massive downturn in the commercial sector.

These drops in demand are all recession related; similarly diesel, jet fuel, and various other refinery products associated with commercial use are down, but gasoline demand is rebounding in match with VMT coming up to last year's levels, suggesting that these curbs are wholly transitory and will be erased when the economy picks back up, assuming it does that is.

I agree, although one might reasonably question whether demand will fully recover in light of generally and in some cases significantly higher prices. Historically, as I'm told, long term price elasticity within the commercial sector falls somewhere between -0.20 and -0.97 (Rand, 2005). Keep in mind, these numbers may underestimate price sensitivity in that we appear to be moving from a period of relative price stability characterized by generally flat or declining electricity rates, to one marked by increasing price volatility. Along with this, the broadening range and declining cost of numerous energy saving technologies, and the various financial incentives offered by utilities, government, ESCOs to encourage their adoption, continues to accelerate.

I confess I'm not particularly well read in this area and working outside my comfort zone, so I'd appreciate your thoughts on this and those of the other contributors to this thread.


As Jerome has suggested in his wind posts, long horizon renewables have a negative feedback to their own scaling in a market system (which is why many state owned companies are involved in feed-in tariffs and scaling in Europe). As more wind comes online, credit crisis aside, it reduces marginal price of electricity, which makes it more difficult to depart from exisiting, marginal cost fuels like coal and natural gas. I.e. as wind would approach 10% of US electricity, it would lower electricity costs to the point where utilities would get signal not to add wind...i.e. the market will not scale wind on its own. (I think we will have Jeromes presentation from Italy up by next week)

Contrarily, if the price of fuels goes up there will be price signals to build more wind, and the companies that did so in advance will have a competitive advantage.

What will actually happen depends upon how the decision makers weigh the odds and risks.

But keeping everything else equal (which is, of course, impossible), the more wind there is the lower prices will be at the margin, which will dis-incentivize long duration renewables in favor of status quo - i.e. if the decisionmakers use the market as guide, there will be natural cap to amt of wind - if they use something else (like maxing future energy in 2025 then you are correct)

Unless we run out of FF then we will only have renewables and nuclear, wind can be installed quickly(a few years)so will do the heavy lifting until solar and/or nuclear catch up. I don't think price will be an issue if the alternative is rolling blackouts.

2. We have, as of now, no renewable energy source, nor combination
of sources, that can scale up quickly enough, or provide anywhere
near to the energy equivalent of oil, to avoid a severe, worldwide
energy shortage.

3. Even if we had renewable energy sources to provide the equivalent
energy of oil at the same cost, our entire economic infrastructure
is oil, not electron or hydrogen, based. The economy might not
be able to work as well on non-oil based energy. For example, could
airplanes, or large mining trucks, be run on batteries?

To produce an equivalent amount of energy provided by oil in one year would take:

200 Three Gorges Dams
2,600 Nuclear Power Plants
5,200 Coal Fired Plants (not good for global warming...)
1,642,500 Wind Turbines
4,562,500,000 Solar Panels

Not to mention that the US is pretty broke and has no money and is living on borrowed funds from overseas, if the lenders decide to pull their support, the US economy is toast. It is reliant for 70% of it's oil imports not to mention minerals and metals as well as a lot of other stuff. It's a negative sum game and China holds the best cards for now.

In many places in the EU, Japan and soon China, airplanes are being displaced by high speed rail.

And as a mining engineer you know that a primary calculation by the profession is the breakeven between conveyor belts (driven by electricity) and trucks (driven by oil ATM). Just skew the economics heavily towards conveyor belts and against trucks.


Would that life were that easy. One of the problems with belts is that there is only one of them, so that when it breaks your total production is shut down, whereas with trucks if one is down you only lose a part of your production. Plus there are problems with weather, wear and maintenance (a truck can come in out of the ice storm) So it really depends on the individual case, and is hard to generalize. (Though as academics we try and do that).

I have seen belts:

1) disposing of the cuttings from 54 km of 7 & 8 m diameter tunnels
2) a small underground limestone quarry that went underground switched from trucks to belts to raise the crushed rock from the underground crusher to the surface stockpiles.
3) In a lignite mine (large scale)

In #1, despite the length (up to 18 km), reliability of the conveyors was never an issue (MANY other problems were). It was in Iceland with ~ 1 km outside, so your "ice storm" concern is questionable.

With #2, the much increased reliability of the belt over trucks was one of the reasons given by the quarry owner to me for the switch.

So your "reliability" argument rings hollow.

And Post-Peak Oil, it will be less important. Mines that mine with electricity will do better than those that use a lot of oil.

Best Hopes for Electrified mining,


I dislike the "Cubic Mile Model" immensely.

Among other things it assumes that we will consume the same amount of energy.

We won't. We will do things more efficiently and we will frequently do without.

The economy will not be the same on the downslope because it cannot be, and attempts to make it so are doomed to failure.

Keep your stick on the ice. We're all in this together.

"We have, as of now, no renewable energy source, nor combination
of sources, that can scale up quickly enough, or provide anywhere
near to the energy equivalent of oil, to avoid a severe, worldwide
energy shortage.
Wind energy has been increasing at 30% for last 15 years,(50% last year), so doubling every 2.4 years. The US uses 190Billion gallons of gasoline and distillate/year and another 15-20MJ of electricity and NG(5KWh) to refine that from crude oil. It requires 10kWh in a similar sized EV to travel the distance that one gallon of gasoline can move an ICE vehicle. Hence would need about 1000Billion kWh to replace that 190Billion gallons( about 120GW average). The present wind turbines operating in US generate 9GW average(28GW capacity) so would need X13 present wind capacity( less than 4 doubling or <10years) so could have this energy in place by 2020.

We probably won't have all cars EV or PHEV by 2020, but we could have about 50% of VMT electric by this date. I am not sure if you think the US will have 50% of today's oil available and I don't think anyone knows.

" our entire economic infrastructure is oil, not electron or hydrogen, based. The economy might not be able to work as well on non-oil based energy. For example, could
airplanes, or large mining trucks, be run on batteries?

When you turn on your lights, or boil a kettle or turn on an A/C do you use oil?. Does you TV or computer run on oil? I think kerosene lighting went out 100 years ago. We have the infrastructure in place to use electric vehicles, every home has them; 110volt outlets. The grid in not being used at full capacity in evenings and can handle another 180GW of overnight demand( 18% of capacity). May have to give up most air travel, so what?
Many mining trucks, shovels are already electric, or diesel electric and could be converted to all electric. Same for trains. We will need oil for ocean shipping( about 3% of world oil use), 1% for agriculture. Do you think we will be able to manage to recover 4% of present oil production in 30-40 years? If not I am sure CNG or chemical storage would work on ships as weight is not an issue.

Major Uses of Petroleum Products in the United States, 2000

Cars, SUV’s, minivans, pickups Gasoline (99%) 40.7%
Trucks>8500 lbs Diesel (80%) 12.7%
Raw materials for plastics, chemicals Feedstocks, LPG 10.3%
Air passenger travel Jet fuel 6.7%
Process heat for factories Various grades 5.0%
Heat and hot water for homes, offices, stores Fuel oils, LPG 4.9%
Energy to run oil refineries Still gas 3.3%
Road paving Asphalt 2.8%
Water freight (dom. and int’l) Residual, distillate 2.5%
Agriculture (machinery and drying crops) LPG, diesel 2.2%
Electricity generation Residual (>90%) 1.6%
Construction machinery Diesel 1.6%
Military Mostly jet fuel 1.5%
Rail freight Diesel 1.2%
Air freight Jet fuel 1.1%
Recreational vehicles and boats Gasoline 1.0%

It's really a classic case of oversupply. So many wind turbines have gone in to the high-quality sites in West Texas that wholesale prices have crashed and a fair amount of existing wind farms get shut in due to lack of transmission capacity.

Wind farms don't usually rely on wholesale markets for their revenue, but on fixed price contracts driven by Renewable Portfolio Standards and similar requirements. In the case of Texas, it has a target of 5880 MW by 2015, but around 7000 MW have already been built. So unless Texas raises the requirement there is no need to contract for additional capacity.

As Gail notes, lower energy usage in the current recession makes all of this tougher.

If I read the tea leaves for this summer correctly (ok, I'm speculating) climate change is pushing peak demand higher in Texas, even while energy use lags. This won't help wind, however, unless a way to store it can be brought to market.

EDIT: Bottom line is that I think Pickens is waiting it out. ERCOT is investing $400/kW of new wind in grid upgrades by 2012, signalling a likelihood that Texas will indeed increase its targets.

The failure of the Pickens' Plan has nothing to do with financing, transmission line availability or less expensive natural gas. It has everything to do with Pickens' poor calls on markets. He allegedly lost several billions trading natural gas and oil during 2008. Pickens had made the billions in the previous few years. Easy come, easy go. The problem with the Pickens' Plan is Pickens - not wind power.


I have little sympathy for Pickens or the Pickens Plan.

The guy is watching out for number one. And he acts as though he will live forever. He has little regard for what his statements, plans and actions have on others. He has put down ethanol ever since I can remember. He cares little that corn surpluses without ethanol would devastate Midwest farmers and put them back on the government dole.

His grandiose wind farm plans were a big show a year or so ago, while others plodded along with more modest wind farm construction. FPL who build the 180 turbine wind farm around my place quietly keeps investing. It turns out that the original Pickens Plan to replace natural gas produced electricity with wind to free up natural free gas for use as transport fuel is in shambles.

It was never well thought out. It was a big media play to draw attention to himself. He seems to need to be in the limelight all the time. All that is left now of his plan, if it passes Congress and is signed into law, is a modest government program to subsidise natural gas powered vehicles which is a good idea. But it too will fail because of lack of infrastructure, inertia from the public, the powers that be and the implications of large natural gas usage for transportation on the home heating costs.

Pickens hasn't got much time left. That he can't figure this stuff out shows that his mind is failing IMO. The Pickens plan will die when he does, if not sooner.

I have little sympathy for Pickens or the Pickens Plan. The guy is watching out for number one.

What if Pickens Plan was centered around corn ethanol? (99%+ of people are watching out for 'number one', either consciously or otherwise)

The biggest problem with Pickens' plan is that it was premature. Once oil production starts declining the use of natural gas to power cars is going to hold considerable appeal.

'...he acts as though he will live forever'

'Plan like you'll live forever, live like you'll die tomorrow.' - James Dean

How far is he from Marfa?

He seems to need to be in the limelight all the time

The Limelight is part of the Hydrogen Economy. (you take O2 and H2, then burn and have the flame hit lime. Light by Lime. Limelight)

You implicitly discount renewables with your comment "not a very good day for renewables".

A relatively cool, overcast day in June will heat water with the more efficient solar water heaters (AFAIK recommended for Boston area). Significantly reducing domestic water heating demand will allow allow several coal fired power plants to be scrapped AND free up significant amounts of natural gas to use to supplement wind generation, allowing even more coal fired plants to be scrapped. Plus they still use some oil in the NE to heat water, work better done by the sun.

And a gusty windy day seems just fine for wind generation. Perhaps the squall exceeded the design limits for a few minutes, but I doubt it

And the rain increased the hydroelectric generation. Canada can export significantly more hydroelectric (Newfoundland is actively engineering a 4 GW project to feed the Atlantic provinces and New England, HydroQuebec has about 5 GW in projects identified).

Best Hopes for More Renewables, Nukes, and less coal,


This renewable/pumped hydro idea is 'powerful' weak IMO.

Imagine you have a US system with 300GW of wind(running at nameplate 25% of the time) filling a pumped hydro 'battery'. The battery would be created by turning every hydro dam in the US into pumped storage. This would of course relegate the use of hydro dams for agriculture and human consumption purposes behind its use as a 'battery'.

300GW x 25% x 8760 hours per year at full nameplate = 657 Twh to charge the 'battery'.

Pumped hydro is 75% efficient so you get 500 Twh out
which you spread over 6570 hours per year and get 76 GW of electricity out on average. 77GW is what US conventional hydro can produce peak today(nameplate). It represents the peak output of the pumped storage 'battery'.

We can add another 75 GW of wind to provide electricity during the 25% of the time the 300 GW is charging the 'battery'. This way we get a wind-pumped storage system that produces 75 GW year even while the 'battery' is being charged.

Unfortunately there is no 'battery' left for the nukes to charge.

That averages out to 250 Watts per person; 75 GW/300 million americans which is the per capita demand of electricity of China.

No doubt we could count on Canada for another 72 GW,
but I doubt all NA together could produce a wind-ps 'battery' larger than 1000 Twh or 25% of current US consumption.

That sounds like a very 'single-stream' analysis, Majorian.

Much of the windpower is being delivered directly to customers on the grid. Pumped storage is not a battery to hold all these GWH until needed, and accepting of all consequent losses, but a capacitor for smoothing out the rumble between supply and demand graphs.

One way of increasing the power of a pumped storage system is not to merely use the Hydro Dams where we happen to find them, such as Lake Mead, but to create storage at higher altitudes, which can make much better use of each gallon held.

Finally, the water involved in pumped storage is still like trees are to carbon-dioxide. They are active elements of the hydrologic process, as trees hold Carbon that is part of the ongoing carbon cycle.. it's not a purely isolated 'extraction' of that water from the rest of the system. Run-of-river volumes need to be maintained to keep from strangling downstream interests and ecological needs, but containment of an actively stored volume at height needn't be a contradiction to that requirement.

Pumped storage is not a battery to hold all these GWH until needed, and accepting of all consequent losses, but a capacitor for smoothing out the rumble between supply and demand graphs.

That is how pumped storage is used now with baseload coal and nuclear. At night baseload is used to fill reserviors which are drained during the day.

Let's say that you built out another 105GW of nuclear power(to 210 Gwe) and linked it with the 500 Twh of hydro available today, capable of 77 GW output during the day, for a maximum demand of 287 GW for ~10 hours a day and over a year it might return an impressive ~2000 Gwh which is about as much as all coal produces now.

However it would only be 40%(287 Gwe) of the annual US maximum demand(summer) of 727 GWe.

Renewables are different. They are 'on' for a short period and then they are off. In that brief period they will fill the storage medium as long as they are running. For example, solar runs at nameplate(peak) only 4 or 5 hours a day and that must be converted with losses into storage, in the case of pumped hydro water x feet up in the air.

The pumped storage 'battery' works best if you leave it plugged in a long time.

A pumped storage reservoir doesn't care if it's charged in spurts or slow and steady. The fluid input and output both give the flexibility of absorbing fast changes in flowrates.

With pumped storage available, you have the 'luxury' to gradually over-install your Wind or Solar supply to levels that would otherwise threaten to imbalance the grid, so that you can use the Renewable Power directly with the greatest efficiency and benefit when those sources are running, and then in times of excess production or lax demand, you lean on the storage to take the excess instead of shutting down mills and CSP plants which have nowhere to send their watts. If you're undersupplied with sun, wind, tide generation or conditions, etc.. then you're undersupplied. At that point, either you burn your burnable fuels, or deal with less power. But pumped storage is a shock absorber. It's not a complete Battery-bank to drive the grid, largely as you describe, because it cannot be built that large.

The only delta in fast or slow recharge rates for pumped storage (and for draining the "battery") is tunnel friction.

The slower the water velocity for a given tunnel, the lower the friction losses. A delta of 1% to 2% in cycle efficiency.


As opposed to nuclear, solar PV does not produce power at night and thus does not need to be pumped up a storage lake at night when there is very little demand.

Anyway even if interconnected wind power wouldn't provide baseload:
Even if wind power wouldn't produce more power during daytime, when there is more demand:
Even if wind power wouldn't produce more power during winter time when there is less hydro and wouldn't save on water from hydro power lakes:
Even if weather forecasts wouldn't exist and make wind power predictable.
And even if flexible gas power plants wouldn't already exist:

If limited fossil fuels are substituted by heat pumps, then there is no storage issue, because heat can be stored easily and cheaply. Heat pumps simply run when there's lots of wind.

Solar PV needs pumped storage too.

In theory, solar PV peaks at solar noon (actually fewer clouds in AM than in PM, so late morning may be Solar PV peak). Electriclas demand almost everywhere has either a primary or secondary peak @ 6 PM, when solar PV is minimal.

Even a/c peak is usually @ 2:30 to 4 PM (on eastern or western edge of time zone has an impact on time vs. hottest time of day).

So, a high % of solar PV results in an excess at solar noon and a shortfall at peak. Just the time shift that pumped storage in good for.

Also,. where did you get that pie graph ? It does not correlate to anything I am familiar with.


Currently the water turbines are running during day time when demand also peaks.

If solar PV peaks at around noon, water turbines can reduce their power output or even completely shut off. (The same is true for gas turbines.) The pump storage lakes therefore don't need to be drained around noon and thus there is less pumping energy needed at night.

If you believe the data is wrong: Can you show me any data, that proofs that the majority of energy in households around the world is not needed for heating and cooling purposes?

If you believe the data is wrong: Can you show me any data, that proofs that the majority of energy in households around the world is not needed for heating and cooling purposes?

That is *NOT* the way it works on TOD.

I asked for the source of your data and you should supply a link (and perhaps justification for why that link is valid).

I have no obligation to provide alternative data.

ATM, I see your graph as unsupported fantasy until you show otherwise.


Relax, I just expected that it is common knowledge, especially at TOD, that much more energy in households is needed for heating purposes than for anything else.

Anyway, is BBC a useful source?

or maybe the Department of energy?

or maybe the conservation bureau in Ontario?

or maybe this Australian link?

or maybe this German link?

or maybe this German link?

or this German link?

or this German link?

or this German link?

or this Wikipedia link?

and this here is from a public utility:

Or if this is all fantasy land why do people complain about heating bills?

Mostly German, one British, one Canadian, one Washington State source (where cheap electricity makes electric heating cheap).

The Dept. of Energy had "Heating and Cooling"

Another DoE graph has heating and cooling COMBINED at 45%.

Geographic bias towards cold, northerly areas in your data selection.

ERCOT Texas just hit an all time peak demand of 62.4 GW. I strongly suspect that this was not driven by heating demand as most temperatures were over 100 F.

California’s highest peak demand was 52,863 megawatts and occurred July 10, 2002. Again, unlikely to be driven by heating demand.

I have known residents of Southern California that say that they can go years without using the heater once.

Personally, I use less than 10% of my energy for heating.

The two DoE #s are for heating and cooling, NOT just heating.

SO your generic claims are disproved (except for Germany, UK, Canada and other special cases).


Besides that there is also an Australian link:

Thank you for finally answering my question:

Can you show me any data, that proofs that the majority of energy in households around the world is not needed for heating and cooling purposes

The two DoE #s are for heating and cooling.

And your graph says:
Heating and cooling: 45% (heat energy)
Water heater: 11% (heat energy)
Refrigerator: 6% (heat energy)
Washer & dryer: 10% (heat energy)
Other: 15%
(Some washers and even some dryers in central Europe run off the hot water tank from the heat pump, because its saves on the electricity bill - I don't see a reason why this would not be an option in the US.)

And thus thank you for confirming that 72% of even your household example mainly requires heat energy (HOT AND COLD).
And that is precisely the point: Heat energy (hot and COLD) can cheaply and easily be stored.

Also, California had its keep demand on a sunny day in July, so solar PV would have an excellent power source to reduce the load on the grid on that day without having to store that excess PV power on that same day.

(except for Germany, UK, Canada and other special cases).

Besides that this is not the point: Which special cases?
The entire US-Northeast, entire US-midwest and entire US-Northwest, most of Russia, most of Europe, China etc.?

1) Cooling cannot be "easily and cheaply stored" as you allege.

Storing heat is a challenge, cooling is a larger one.

Your initial graph showed simply "heating" as taking 50% of energy, to which I called foul.

And yes, you cherry picked your data. There are VERY large energy consuming areas that use relatively little energy for heating.

In the EU, I suspect Spain, Italy and Greece use less than half their household energy on heating.

And yes, northerly areas are a very large "special case". You generalized everywhere for what you apparently considered normal. (As men often do, thinking "male" = norm for humanity).

And the areas with good solar potential are the areas with minimal heating needs.

Greetings from below 30 degrees latitude and above 30 degrees Celsius,


I didn't cherry pick data, I presented your data:

And your graph says:
Heating and cooling: 45% (heat energy)
Water heater: 11% (heat energy)
Refrigerator: 6% (heat energy)
Washer & dryer: 10% (heat energy)
Other: 15%
And thus your data confirms that 72% of even your household example mainly requires heat energy (HOT AND COLD).
If you believe or data is wrong, then why do you show it to me?

Heat energy (hot or cold) can be stored cheaply compared to electricity.
Practically all electrically powered hot water heaters in Europe, heat the water at night (at lower electricity prices) and store it in an insulated water tank through the day.

And yes, northerly areas are a very large "special case". You generalized everywhere for what you apparently considered normal. (As men often do, thinking "male" = norm for humanity).

Besides that heat energy (hot or cold) can be stored cheaply:
So you're saying the people in Canada, the entire US-Northeast, the entire US-midwest and entire US-Northwest, most of Russia, most of Europe, most of China, New Zealand, South Australia etc. are not relevant?
And are you seriously saying that people in the southern part of the US and Europe do not take hot showers and hot baths and do not wash their clothes?

And if on a mild, clear June day, solar PV > demand at solar noon, then the power either goes to waste or to pumped storage.

BTW, enough solar PV for peak a/c demand (typically 3-4 PM in mid-August) will be dramatically in surplus on said mild, clear June day (peak solar is June 21st/22nd at solar noon, by mid-August solar is almost 2 months past peak).


And if on a mild, clear June day, solar PV > demand at solar noon, then the power either goes to waste or to pumped storage.

The US has currently a total capacity of over 930 GW installed.
It will require a lot of solar PV capacity until solar PV alone can exceed demand.

Also, heat pumps can run on solar PV as well and heat energy (hot or cold) can be stored cheaply - no need for its energy to go to waste.

"Cold" cannot be stored "cheaply and easily".

Just a few hours storage for a residential sized system, the Ice Bear, is $8,000 and the overall system efficiency is suspect. I doubt it's capacity in southern climes.


Cold and hot energy is generally stored in a water tank.

An insulated water tank does not care whether its filled with hot or cold water.

This below ground water tank costs less than $1000 and can basically store 62 kWh if its water is cooled by only 10 K:

And this tank for $445 can basically store 48 kWh (same conditions):|66%3A2|39%3A1|72%3A1205|293%3A1|294%3A50

Most PV systems on German houses have less than 5kW.

You must be unfamiliar with air conditioning.

Cold water is not an adequate source of "cold" (in a stretch, a very large volume of very cold, say saline, water (say at -7 C) could be used in Phoenix).

Humidity control is a larger issue than temperature control in New Orleans. In all cases, humidity must be controlled (Phoenix is so dry most, but not all, of the time humidity is not an issue).

Poorly designed air conditioning systems can cool houses here, but poor humidity control fills them with mold.

The evaporator must be cold enough to precipitate water out of the air, enough to maintain <85% relative humidity inside (50% relative humidity is considered ideal, an engineer who installed a system with 85% humidity would likely be sued).

The air conditioner evaporator temperature cannot fall below 0 C or the a/c "ices up". There is inadequate humidity control at much above 10 C.

The only somewhat successful approach to storing cold has been with ice. Ice stays at 0C to 0.1C for an extended period as it melts (energy of phase change), but once it all turns to cold water only a small amount of additional a/c can be drawn from it. See the Ice Bear.


Actually, many buildings in Europe are cooled with water.
(This can also be used to reduce the total energy needed needed for air conditioning.)

Anyway, ice is water and has even more heat capacity due to its the phase change.
If you turn water in the water tank into ice you end up with even more heat energy storage.

And even if you don't turn it to ice. If you keep the temperature of the water tank for $445 in the example above between 0 and 10 degrees C, you end up with a maximum energy storage of 48 kWh.

The point remains: Heat energy (hot or cold) can be stored easily and cheaply compared to electricity, since water has a tremendous heat capacity.

There are 4 tube water commercial a/c systems (2 hot, 2 cold) and they are terribly inefficient.

Air is cooled to close to 0 C to remove humidity and then HEATED to achieve the desired temperature. The required air flows by ASHRAE and desired temperatures cannot be achieved without reheat (except in Phoenix 50 C summers)

You are simply wrong if you think "cool" can be stored in water "simply and economically". The ONLY small scale (residential) size ice storage system I know of is Ice Bear and I cannot think of a case where I would recommend it for our climate in New Orleans. Perhap's OK in Canadian summers (their target market). Expensive (quoted $8,000 for 4 ton system).


As I was told years ago, the reason it is called air conditioning and not simply "cooling"# is because humidity control is an essential part of the combined process.


# unlike Germans, Americans do not like long names and avoid them whenever possible.

Air is cooled to close to 0 C to remove humidity and then HEATED to achieve the desired temperature. The required air flows by ASHRAE and desired temperatures cannot be achieved without reheat (except in Phoenix 50 C summers)

So what? You either let the water freeze (as in the Ice Bear example) or add antifreeze to the cold reservoir and you can keep the heat exchanger for the air flow close to 0 C either way.

The ONLY small scale (residential) size ice storage system I know of is Ice Bear and I cannot think of a case where I would recommend it for our climate in New Orleans.

New Orleans is not the world and there is no reason to use a cold reservoir on a LARGE scale system either.


Of course, and this has nothing to do whether the heat exchanger, which cools the air flow is connected to a cold reservoir or not.

Cold water does not have enough capacity to be useful.

Once it reaches about 13 C, it is no longer useful for further humidity control.

Only phase change (ice to water, 3.33 x 10^5 J/kg) has enough capacity to be usable in the real world.

In the USA, air conditioners are measured in tons. That is the equivalent to melting so many English tons of ice/hour.

A 3.5 ton air conditioner can provide as much cool as melting 3.1+ metric tons of ice/hour.

Most overnight ice storage systems I am aware of (and the only ones I have seen) are for commercial office buildings. They take advantage of the square/cube law for large insulated storage of the ice.

Going back to your earlier claim, "cool" cannot not be stored cheaply or easily.


PS: Almost all older Icelandic engineers were educated in either Germany, Denmark or Sweden. All of them have worked with German engineers at some point in their life. All agree that there is nothing more stubborn than a German engineer.

After Katrina, I attached myself to a German para-military engineering group (THANKS !) sent to help New Orleans. One assignment was to pump an underpass (under a railroad) to keep a critical road open. They would pump it dry, shut down and go away. A few hours later a call that the road was closed, COME BACK !

They blamed a broken water main. I said no, the city is a sponge and water is seeping from a saturated sponge. Only when the water table is lowered, will the road stay dry. They ABSOLUTELY refused to believe this.

Total demand has never been equal to total capacity or even close.

Transmission constraints prevent the USA from being a single market.

And peak demand does NOT match peak solar PV production.

Given Daylight Savings Time, it is reasonable to say solar noon is close to 1 PM (I checked, 12:57 in Los Angeles)

Look at the load curves. At solar noon, near 1 PM, California load was 32.5 GW today. Peak is expected at 34.8 GW (today is Sunday, an unusual load curve day).

Nuclear cannot be modulated. Subtract that. Spinning reserve cannot be turned off, subtract that. Minimum stream flows & run-of-river hydro is run regardless, subtract that. And wind is also run regardless or wasted.

An installed base of 28 GW of solar PV in Southern and Central California would likely be in surplus today either before or at solar noon. Natural gas would be need at peak demand.

Solar PV could use pumped storage to shift the surplus from solar noon to peak demand.


Ok, but 28 GW of solar PV is a lot of capacity for half a state.

Yes it is :-)

But Southern and Central California are close to ideal spots for solar PV, both in political support, latitude and clear skies. A better budget would help though.

Remember the "Great California Wind Rush" ? Without that, the Danish wind industry would not have matured and wind would likely have never crossed the threshold to economic viability.

Today I can get a 30% tax credit from the US Gov't and a 50% tax credit from the State of Louisiana for solar PV or solar hot water heating.

Best Hopes,


The 25% wind-ps battery you describe sounds pretty valuable. Is the idea a failure if it can't hit 100%?

Are all reservoirs currently used for hydro generation? No. Perhaps there is room for some expansion.

Is it possible to build new reservoirs? Yes.

I tried to give an explanation of how 50% of N Amercia's electricity could be generated from wind energy and integrated into the grid.

This uses the existing NG peak capacity but using less NG by using for shorted periods( lower capacity).

If you want to store a very large amount of power the Lake Ontario Lake Erie has a 99meter difference in height and 18,000 sq km surface area, so just one meter in water height adds up to a very large number of GWhs(18Billion cu meters x 99 meter heightx0.3kWh= 600,000GWh) enough to supply the entire grid for about 6 weeks.

I like wind. I strongly support AWEA goal of
installing 300 GW in 2030.

But I don't think that pumped storage for wind or solar makes much sense.
I favor using wind and natural gas
(if there are adequate supplies) to replace coal and reduce CO2. 300 GW of wind and 300 GW of back up natural gas would replace all current US coal electricity production,reducing US GHG emissions from power by 60%. However it would require a lot of natural gas--double current natural gas production.

Majorian conflates two related technologies, hydroelectric generation & pumped storage.

In some specific cases (but NOT a majority) the same turbines can perform both functions (generating renewable energy, often on "as needed" basis, and storing power).

It is entirely possible and feasible to build more dedicated "pumped storage only" MW than existing hydroelectric MW.


The storm was the day before, I was looking out over Cambridge (and it was cold outside) and just noticed that over the full view from Memorial Drive looking towards down-town Boston there was not a tree moving. Very much like the weather I remember from the North of England (grey and cold). Having had solar roll on my (Missouri) roof to pre-heat water going into our hot water system, I found we needed a sunny day to get the temperature up 20 - 30 deg (I had thermocouples all around the circuit but sadly have lost most of the data since we did it about 20 years ago).

A very short search with Google found a high efficiency solar hot water heater designed for the UK. Decent explanation of their technology.

There are several competing technologies for heating domestic hot water on overcast days at higher latitudes. Better than 20 years ago.

A windy day followed by a calm one is just fine for using wind to mothball coal fired plants. Some options are :

1) On windy days tell HydroQuebec to hold the water and reduce sales to Massachusetts. The next day let the water through the turbines and increase electricity sales.

2) Build pumped storage that stores the excess (once wind becomes a much higher % of the grid) from a windy night for use later.

3) Burn natural gas on calm days, wind on windy days, a DRAMATICALLY better option than coal all the time for Climate Change.

4) Demand side management to shift demand to windy days (1% to 2% of total is possible IMHO, Electric cooking/baking and drying are two targets (although I prefer solar clothes dryers) plus industry.

5) Fire up the coal fired plant on calm days, shut it down on windy days.

Best Hopes for MUCH less coal,



I'm really glad whenever you find the time to get involved in a long thread since your comments seem to be based more on serious research and unbiased thinking than most others.

A couple of questions,please.

Would it be feasible to design a refrigerator with an ice reservoir large enough to shift the electrical load almost entirely to off peak night time hours or hours (and days) when wind and solar are working at or near nameplate capacity?Perhaps after the smart grid arrives if not now?

Could such a refrigerator not be built with its condenser attached with longer refrigerant lines so that its condenserand maybe its motor could be located outside?This would probably require a service call for the initial installation,but not NECESSARILY if well designed.Lots of backyard mechanics recharge auto ac with thirty dollar tool kits.Most commercial installations are so arranged but I 'm told by service men that it's for ease of service and saving of inside space primarily rather than energy efficiency.

This could reduce the residental ac load quite a bit if Im not mistaken.

I have not seen any analysis of the OVERALL MONETARY DIRECT savings that result to us as a SOCIETY as a consequence of using wind generated and solar electricty,thereby having the additional happy consequence of depressing demand for coal and natural gas.

Given that the price of oil is highly inelastic(I'm not sure about coal and ng price elasticity) and a relatively small drop in percent demand has therefore resulted in a far greater percent price drop,it seems to me that:

Any switch to electric vehicles will help suppress future oil prices to a far greater extent than is commonly realized.This might be expressed as subsidizing the manufacture of electric cars will make gas a LITTLE CHEAPER-MAYBE A LOT CHEAPER -than it WOULD HAVE BEEN otherwise.It will still go up, but less rapidly,right?

Any switch to solar and wind will also have a similar but probably less pronounced effect on long term coal and ng prices.

I'm sure various people have incorporated such factors into future scenarios,but I haven't seen any thing that looks credible-not that I'm into researching energy,beyond reading the Oil Drum.

Do you -or does any body here -have any figures either way?

Refrigerator - All that you said is technically possible, but an alternative would be cheaper and have much the same effect at a lower price.

Separate compressors for freezing & +1 C (refrigeration) sections.

Increase the standard size for refrigerators, allowing for thicker insulation with the space we "need" inside.

When a utility requests (via radio, internet, high frequency signal over power lines) the refrigerator will allow the inside temperatures to rise a couple of degrees more till the compressor kicks in. Perhaps late at night, the freezer goes 5 degrees F (3 C) colder on another signal.

Waste heat in the summer is useful heat in the winter. Savings by climate vary, but having another "appliance" outside has all sorts of issues (copper theft, lawn mower damage, looks).

In very northerly climates, a well insulated tube to the outside (like a dryer vent, but an In & out) could draw in cold air for the freezer "on occasion" (although that is when there would be no waste heat from the compressor). Inside the refrigerator, humidity control requirements make outside air less usable.

BTW, new US refrigerators use 75% (or more) less than they did 30 years ago.

More later on other issue,


Structural conservation (i.e. efficiency) is a clear economic plus. More insulation, better windows, solar clothes dryers :-), more efficient appliances, living in walkable neighborhoods, fewer exposed sq ft/resident.

When modeling with the Millennium Institute, we looked at oil prices and although the model calced coal & NG prices, I did not track them.

Bottom line on oil prices. We will burn what is available. Massive conservation delays oil price increases a few years. The issue is *NOT* what oil we will burn (answer "all of it"), but how much GDP do we get for burning X barrels/day. Coal is *NOT* the same way. Use of coal is variable.

With major Non-Oil Transportation and renewables, the answer is 13% more GDP by 2030, growing towards 50% more GDP by 2050. -38% less CO2 by 2030.

Add major efficiency gains and the results will be better. However, modeling shows that high prices will drive this regardless. Per vague memory (long hours at that time), increasing energy efficiency by 1% arbitrarily had a delayed effect on GDP, but GDP went up 0.3% (2030) and later 0.6% (2050) with 1% better energy efficiency coupled with <1% less coal use (more GDP, more coal; more efficiency, less coal).

Hope this helps,


Well, this is about T Boone's plans, with a small 'p.' The Plan I'd say is doomed to fail until the big automakers can market an NGV in the US that doesn't have a $7k premium attached to it; also more gas stations need to offer CNG, as it is there are great swathes of the country where you can't get very far owing to the ca. 200 mile range of the Civic GX.

Yes, aside from lower range, higher vehicle cost, and few places to refuel natural gas for transportation is great.

Our problem with moving away from oil is that even in 2009 most of the substitutes cost more. Now, that's going to change. But few people want to pay more to make the jump sooner than they have to.

I'm not very upset with the "delay" in Pickens' plan. It's far more important to get rid of waste in current usage than it is use to replace FF with so-called renewables. "Renewable" excludes the energy costs of the turbines, mills, infrastructure, etc. Retrenchment is unavoidable -- let's get on with it -- but let's do it equitably and rationally. Ha, ha! True. But still, that's what we ought to do.

It has been very HOT down here in Texas. Agree to eliminate waste but cutting the A/C use in 100 + temps ain’t gonna happen here. At least not until forced.

In my opinion, T. Boones plan was always about the water. I am glad to see that angle mentioned in the story above. Wasn’t sure how widely that part was known.

He has been buying up water rights out west for some time, in hopes of being able to sell water and make more money. Last year or so the Texas legislature passed spending several billions to build transmission lines to west Texas so we could build more wind farms out there. Boone figured if he would build some wind farms, especially a Texas sized one, he could get Governor Perry and his windy cronies down there in Austin to buy the easement and build the transmission line to his wind mills. Meanwhile there would be T. Boone along the side of the easement with a big shovel burying his pipeline so he could get his water down to D/FW, San Antonio and Houston and charge lots of money for it.

The wind farm was a nice greenish means, that everyone would support, to convince the gubment to buy his nearly 1,000 or so mile long easement for him. I don’t know what went awry with his plan that made the easement have to be so much wider to fit his water line in, but now he’s got nearly 700 wind turbines coming that won’t fit in his garage. A little bit ironic.

Somehow, buying up water and selling it back to folks strikes me as wrong. I have even heard of the idea mentioned in India, where people are truly poor.

Once people start having to pay more for the necessities of life (and water is certainly a necessity) we can pretty much be guaranteed a recession, because there will be less money left over for everything else. Cutbacks in spending on these things -> layoffs and defaults on bonds.

Interesting reading and as usual, learned something new on the Oil Drum as like many others I was aware of some of Picken's schtick but not the water angle.

The next big idea will flow nicely into T Boone's pockets- I believe the next great idea is electrification of main rail corridors, generating the power out in the windy zones, and using the rail power grid to be built to distribute/buffer and balance demand/consumption. The trick will be for the railroads to get DOE money to do the electrification--so the taxpayers will make pickens and the railroads rich while we get some enhancement of power supply amount and reliability.
Might be a good deal for us taxpayers--but will be a mountain of cash for the railroads and wind farms without fail.

Gail -

I am sure there are more than a few people out there who would see nothing wrong whatsoever in selling drinking water to disaster victims. Just good old free enterprise, you know.

I fear we are going to see more and more of this sort of thing: the big financial boys, in cahoots with their political cronies, gaining more and more control over vital resources and beggaring the general population in the process.

Indeed, as we enter the Big Squeeze, we are already seeing governments at all levels trying to extort more and more out of a growing body of people with less and less. While you are quite correct that this is a guarantee for recession, I will go one step further and say that it is also guarantee for civil unrest .... of the most ugly sort.

And as the history of civil unrest has shown, it usually doesn't come about gradually, but rather explodes unpredictably, often in the most unlikely places and under the most unlikely circumstances.

T.Boone Pickens has a net worth of over $3 billion according to Wikipedia. He is reputed to be the 117th richest person in the U.S. He may well also be a money addict and a sociopath. I would hypothesize that most of the really rich people in the world are sociopathic, due to the things they have done in order to get as rich as they are. It is not surprising that he's trying to "corner the market" on drinking water in several localities. This sort of thing is always the goal of people who promote the privatization of the provision of the basic necessities of a society.

I have general questions about the feasibility of a large-scale transition to wind power, photovoltaic and nuclear power. Jeff Vail has recently done a series of posts on measuring the purported EROEI of these sources, as well as the practicality of transition to each of these sources given a range of assumed EROEI values. Things don't look as promising in his analysis as they are frequently advertised. Also, I remember reading something on the Oil Drum a while back about Russian use of liquid metal-cooled breeder reactors in nuclear submarines, and how this was now a mature technology. When I dug a little further, I found that the Russians encountered significant metallurgical and operational difficulties with these reactors and that they subsequently replaced them all with pressurized water reactors similar to those used on U.S. Navy ships. Compared to some of the august minds on this site, I'm still something of a newbie, yet I'd like to suggest that there be a few more hardheaded studies of the actual potential of these other energy sources. For my money, I still think most of us will wind up living much simpler lives, and not by choice.

I agree with you about most of us living simpler lives.

I recently talked to Jeff Vail, and he is planning a version of his EROI analysis for The Oil Drum. What was up on his web site was sort of the preliminary version of what he plans to have here.

It seems odd to me to be exporting water from the arid part of the state to the humid part. I know thats where the population is, and perhaps with lower evaporation you get more value per gallon actually consumed. But it sure strikes me as robbing from the poor to support the rich.

I hadn't thought about that, but you are probably right on where he would ship the water. Once the aquifer depletes, I wonder what would happen.

The water already has owners. Boone is trying to concentrate enough ownership that piping it to where people live becomes economically feasible. I do not see the immorality of trying to achieve economies of scale to make a resource usable.

The immorality is not in Using resources, but in how we have the tools and stomachs to now USE UP resources.. which this link would help to do. But economists and entrepreneurs would never paint it in such dark colors.

Granted we are using too many resources. But it is to be expected of a species that is the product of evolution. All species keep eating up more unless predators or resource depletion stop them.

Too small a fraction of the human race is smart enough to understand what is going on and too small a fraction of those who understand want to make sacrifices.

What continues to amaze me is the profligacy of my affluent Austin neighborhood with respect to water. St. Augustine lawns are de rigueur here in the burbs. And on my morning walk today, I noticed a geyser gushing from a broken sprinkler in someone's lawn, just spewing water into the greenbelt.

Oh well, the greenbelt can use the water.

Jeff Vail: Stories tagged with "Renewables Hump."

It seems odd to me to be exporting water from the arid part of the state to the humid part.

Get thee to a public library and read up on water use - it's been the subject of greed and chicanery like any other commodity. I'm reading "Water in the 21st-century West : a High country news reader" at the moment, very breezy read; Water Follies or Cadillac Desert are excellent too.

One possible ironic bit of fallout of T exporting west Texas water would be if it impacted supply enough so that unconventional NG drilling there became so expensive as to be uneconomic - a large section of the Barnett Shale is there and companies have plans to tackle it soon. Oil and gas have been extracted there since the 20s.

Thought I read that T had plans on board to ship water from the Ogalla further north of D/FW as well. Same business of laying pipe in tandem with transmission lines.

I read that story too, but don't remember where. That he wanted the windpower rights-of-way to pipe Ogallala water southeastward from the panhandle. Of course if these silly cityfolk decide to get small and xeriscape the plan might not be so lucrative as expected going forward.

Natural gas might be gone in a generation or two in many countries whereas wind based architecture should last a lot longer. Since gas is finite and has other uses besides electrical generation I suggest it be conserved by limiting its use relative to wind power.

Thus wind power would be the electricity source of choice when it is available making feed-in tariffs unnecessary. Gas peaking plant would be limited to a fraction of the wind output, say 1 Mwh of gas fired for every 3 Mwh of wind. Baseload power should come from hydro and nukes, not coal or gas. When gas is gone perhaps new design nukes will have better load following capability; see also UK Poyry report. Of course when gas is gone a third of the world population will starve due to lack of nitrogen fertiliser.

If it is so tough to get one transmission corridor that suggests there is no way that dozens more will be built. Small scale wind and solar which is not optimal with respect to output may make the cut due to pre-existing transmission.

A more thorough way to preserve natural gas for future use is to do a massive nuclear power plant build. Displace all baseload natural gas plants with nuclear plants. If nuclear power is going to be cheaper than wind then why not radically slash our natural gas usage and preserve it for transportation after Peak Oil?

There are relatively few baseload natural gas plants left in the USA. A half dozen new nukes should be enough to shut them down.


If almost all natural gas is used for baseload generation then wind can't do very much to displace natural gas usage. Wind isn't dispatchable in the first place. One will need more wind than needed at off-peak in order for wind to displace natural gas at peak.

Again assuming (and I'd like to know if this is correct) little natural gas goes to baseload then more likely wind will displace some coal burning off peak.

I can see now the point of establishing a cost for carbon, in an effort to make renewables more economically viable. In a global warming, climate change world, we can no longer use for example coal in Kentucky because its so cheap. We need to change the economics artificially if needed, like the Europeans do, to tilt the monetary considerations in favor of renewables, to reduce our carbon footprint and build an alternative energy production system, before post peak oil really busts our chops and the window of opportunity to build and deploy renewables fades to black outs.

My impression (possibly wrong) is that the level of carbon taxes being contemplated is likely not enough to shift demand to renewables. Renewable mandates are really needed to do that. Carbon taxes (or really cap and trade legislation) will push some new coal generation to gas generation, but won't shift gas to wind, unless gas prices are much higher than they are now.

Heading Out,
So just as I thought that wind was taking the commanding lead in the alternate energy stakes, we have days like today. Such events are bound to slow the growth of alternative fuels to the fossil fuels we now use

Why would you think because "one planned development" was canceled, wind is not taking a commanding lead ?
What about the 8GW of new wind installed in the last 6 months, the 3GW under construction?.

How about the 20% reduction in turbine prices because they are no longer "back-ordered" two years in advance. Boone may have done the industry a favor, better for the turbines to be installed in regions with good grid connections.

How about the positive news about grant guidance:
"As with all industry, the economic conditions of the past eight or nine months have held us back. We believe these grants will help get our companies back on track, create more jobs, and balance our electricity portfolio with clean, renewable energy. The implementation of this program for renewable energy will be a welcome boost, just when we all need it.”

Your comment about 24 hours of little wind in the NE, you are fortunate you do not live in Quebec, Canada otherwise you would be fearful of electricity cuts every day it isn't raining because they get 90% of their electricity from hydro.You should have been asking was it sunny in Arizona and New Mexico on that day? that's where you will be getting peak renewable power in the future.

The vast amount of resource that Pickens put into pushing the plan, and the e-mails touting it that went out to so many folk, all somewhat motivated thereby to believe in the program he was pushing and the benefits of it, meant that there may well be a concomitantly large negative response when such a leading program collapses.

Suddenly there are questions where there was certainty, and it just makes the mountain that others selling the technology have to climb that bit steeper. I talk more and more with those in the utilities that are trying to make the rational choices for what they should be doing for their business and their customers in the future, and this sort of negative publicity will have an impact on such folk.

What happens to Pickens may have an impact just as Shell dropping out of the Thames estuary project had an impact, but the industry has a lot of momentum and the current administration seems to be backing it with grid upgrades and more flexible tax arrangements. A lot of new wind manufacturing starting up not just in Texas but across the country in >30 states, a broader support than ethanol.

It's very windy in that part of Texas - they should put out at least 35 to 38%% of their rated output. That means these turbines would be generating some electricity about 85% of the time, and maxing out about 15% of the time. They won't make any electricity only 15% of the time. But, if you consider the whole state of Texas, it's probably always windy someplace in the state. So, if the winds die off near El Paso, they are probably just fine near Dallas and vice versa.

In effect, with a large enough area (about 400 x 400 miles) and wind arrays scattered across this area, a nice stable average production will result. This won't help peak demand times, but there are ways around that problem. Wind turbines in this scenario become baseload power; things like pumped hydro than can be used to fill in the peaks/soak up excess in low demand/high wind times.

However, it is a bit of a gambling arrangement in Texas for electricity - they are plagued with that marginal price crap. Wind turbines work best when they can get a fixed price for all the electricity they make - and they work really well with Feed-In Tariffs. After all, one of the big benefits of wind is that it has completely predictable production costs for 20 years - and these costs are not related to the price or availability of oil, gas, coal or uranium. But the Texas electricity market is designed for fossil fuels. They need to modernize out of that obsolete model. The estimated Texas onshore wind capacity is humongous - about 135 GW - or twice the current peak consumption. Offshore has a similar potential in Texas...In 2007 Texas electricity use average 46.3 GW, but they have over 100 GW of generating capacity statewide - see As long as they have that obsolete electricity sales system, they won't be able to break away from fossil fuel depedance/addiction. But that also goes for the rest of this nation, too.

As for T. Boone (or now nicknamed TB, and about as desired as that), his scheme also relied on enormous "tax income" - subsidies of ~ 2.1 c/kw-hr on passive income for 10 years (the Production Tax Credit), and the more important MACRS rapid deduction (worth about 3 c/kw-hr for a 10 year basis). But, if people do not pay taxes they get no tax credits, and if they don't have taxable income, no tax deductions. The US incentives/subsidies for wind are butt-ugly during good times, and pretty useless during bad economic times.


I made some calculations using EIA data and average capacity during they year (beginning plus ending divided by 2. Texas wind generation as a percentage of capacity has been as follows:






These amounts are quite a bit better than the US average, but not what you are quoting. Lack of transmission capacity (mentioned in one of HO's quotes) may now be an issue.

Regarding taxes, I thought that there was a recent change to get around the "problem" of no taxable income to offset--direct payment instead of tax credits.


The "poor" wind performance is an artifact of how wind energy capacity is reported, as well as the huge surge in wind turbine installations in Texas. Capacity reported for each year is that recorded on Dec 31, whether it was installed in January or December. But, when MW-hr for the year of, say 2007, is divided by the installed capacity as of December 31, 2007, then the result is skewed to lower net efficiency. This is why the big drop occurred between 2006 and 2007.

Many of the windy sites in Texas have average wind speeds in excess of 8 m/s at hub heights. Germany is probably quite envious of this resource - they often use 6 m/s wind speeds at 80 meter heights, and to get around this, they use higher heights (100, 113, 120 meter hub heights), whereas in Texas, there really is no need to go above 80 meter tower heights. And in several cases, wind turbines that only operate effectively in fast wind speeds - like the Vestas V90 x 3 MW machines - are used in Texas.

Until recently, the boom in Texas wind (they now have 7900 MW installed and another 1100 MW in the works) was based on high gas prices, lots of really windy land and that air conditioned society. Once these remaining turbines are completed (--> 9 GW capacity), this is about $18 billion worth of investment in renewable generation. Presumably, these investments occurred after decent wind resource studies were done, and those financing the investments (typically, 60% to 70% of a wind farm is financed by loans; the interest on these loans is tax deductible, and this creates more "paper losses" when added to the MACRS rapid depreciation). The banks doing these loans would need a reasonable idea of the expected energy output from these investments - the biggest of which (Horse Hollow) is about 750 MW capacity = $1.5 billion installed cost = ~ $1 billion in total loans), and 28% output would not cut the mustard, so to speak.

Also, when you add up the PTC and the interest rate/MACRS deductions, about 2/3 of the installed cost of the wind farms will be "paid" via the lack of taxes paid to the Federal govt for these subsidies. Since ONLY the really really rich can use these credits, this represents a net transfer of $12 billion from "everybody" to the upper 2% of the income distribution. Talk about financial perversion....and due to the way these wind companies are structured, it is virtually impossible to buy stock in these wind farms. The best that can be done is to buy stock in companies like Florida Power & Light (FPL), which also has that aptly named "Turkey Point" nuke complex, Fuel oil or "Orimulsion" - a bitumen water emulsion ( - Venezuelan crude oil burning power plants, some coal and natural gas burners. It's like 1 part wind and 10 parts yuck for their power generation mix. If you wanted to invest your money just is wind farms and thus "vote with your dollars", this is extremely difficult.


VERY good point that the numerator is generation and that is an annual total while the denominator is the end of year total MW.

I would have missed that point !



No problem.

BTW, care to do a posting on a "midwest battery" pumped water storage for massive wind, say, centered around Minnesota/North D/South D and Chicago (as the main load center) with me? If so, zap me a line at Tantalum73 at I am very familiar with the preferred water source and the hills/cliffs for this. It turns out this region has ground so hard and impervious, it probably won't even need an asphalt/PE liner to keep the water from leaking out.


I have already marked the generic area as a potential pumped storage node.

Add the 4 GW or so of new hydropower that ManitobaHydro is trying to sell (plus existing hydro) and some interesting strategies develop.

Especially when wind peaks at the same time that hydroelectric fuel remains in solid form (that is wind reduces reservoir drawdown during the winter).

I will drop you a note soon.

Best Hopes,


As I said, in my calculation, end of year is not end of year capacity, it is average capacity.

In my calculation, the numerator is annual production, the dominator is the average of the December 31 capacity of the prior year and the December 31 capacity of the current year. So I have pretty much taken out the growth distortion.

All of the complexities of how these purchases are structured, as you say, transfers subsidies to a particular subset of the population. There is a belief that these complex financial structures will stay together in the years ahead. But I wonder what multiple bankruptcies will do--will everything hang together as planned, or will here be changes we hadn't considered? What happens if replacement parts are not available, and the wind turbine is no longer operable, or is out or operation for very long periods?

I know I was reading recently that much of the new financing is being delayed, because all of the players want to make sure they are not the odd man out when bankruptcy occurs, but not all of the government rules regarding new programs have been defined.

I think electric power generation technologies get more attention than they deserve. Our chief energy problem is a dwindling supply of liquid hydrocarbon fuel. We need substitutes for how we use energy. Our biggest problem is the transportation sector's overwhelming reliance on liquid hydrocarbon fuels. We need to focus on efforts to develop and implement ways to use (quite plentiful) electric power for transportation.

Our economy isn't to go into a Depression due to insufficient electric power. However, our economy stands a very good chance of going into a Depression due to insufficient supplies of liquid fuels to power cars, trucks, trains, ships, airplanes, farm tractors, farm water pumps, construction equipment, and lots of industrial equipment.

This item, and most of the comments, all seem to point towards an obvious -- but I suppose in the US-dominated West a taboo -- conclusion: If you rely on the supposedly-all-wise market to organise things for you in times of great change, with huge and entirely novel emergencies hoving up over the horizon, you get screwed.

Something to be said for planning and regulation then, perhaps......?

As a European completely at ease with such inherently evil ideas [irony alert!], I'm watching the US and its more abject tontos (such as England) coming to terms with this peremptory need for non-commercial planning with a certain ironic amusement. Think what T-Boone might have been able to do with directed capital steered his way by central government. The Hirsch report said it would need 20 years to prepare prudently and adequately for Peak Oil, to avoid the worst disasters, yet even now, after Peak, the US is still gagging on the need for centralised, directed planning without concern for commercial considerations, to meet the disasters effectively. But of course the only time the US federal government seems to do that it when it's steering gigantic sums of public liability into the unaccountable pockets of the gics* who control it.

The sooner the sacred market is dethroned once and for all the better. It will also help USAmericans see more clearly, and therefore deal with more effectively, the imperial gic-class who have always subverted your theoretical democratic republic. 'Market' theorising has long been a most useful smokescreen and propaganda tool to hide their real purposes -- which are what you would expect from gangsters.

* 'Gic' is an acronym of 'gangsters-in-charge'; and when I coined it, I meant it from the first to be taken absolutely literally. Look at a dictionary definition to see what I mean. It fits.

There, cat placed wilfully amongst the pigeons again! I'm off out now, rain notwithstanding, to do necessary animal and plant husbandry. Sign of the times.....

If you rely on the supposedly-all-wise market to organise things for you in times of great change, with huge and entirely novel emergencies hoving up over the horizon, you get screwed.

I hadn't really thought of it, but you have a point, although I am not sure government will always make better changes. Seeing ahead, and not giving into pressure, are both difficult skills.

New Climate Change legislation, which will impose crushing Cap&Trade fees and/or carbon offset taxes, on natural gas as well as other hydrocarbon fuels, will rebalance this equation and give Pickens the go ahead. Of course, all of us get to pay the freight.

I first met Boone playing basketball in 1945 when I was still at Sam Houston Junior High and he was in Amarillo High School. He was interesting even then. He stayed in high school an extra year hoping to win the 1947 Texas High School Basketball Championship, playing in tandem with a hall of fame guard Jewell McDowell. They were absolute masters of what is now called "pick and roll" Boone was tricky and flashy with a penchant for behind the back passes. Unfortunately he lost the ball and the game to San Antonio's Kyle Rote in the last seconds of the semi-final game. The consolation game included an encounter with Marcus Freiberger a 7 foot center from Greenville. Amarillo won in a game that broke all Texas records for high scoring. . I am #19 in the basketball picture in his latest book and member Robert(Bobby)Wilson at Pickens Plan.
Boone's timing was off in 2008. I read that he went short prematurely. Had he waited a few months he would have done better. He is a workaholic and is clearly sincere in his belief that the US has an energy problem and needs a plan.

is clearly sincere in his belief that the US has an energy problem and needs a plan.

After a conference call with three of his senior staffers (but not Boone himself) I came away with a VERY different conclusion.

I floated the ideas of adding other means of saving both natural gas and electricity (both of which would have the same impact as wind displacing NG fired electricity); specifically tankless natural gas water heaters, more insulation, fix leaks in a/c & heat ducts (outside conditioned space; about 8% to 10% of all heated/cooled air is lost this way), better windows as well as electrified rail lines (in addition to CNG cars) serving as transmission corridors.

Their response to any and all "other ideas" (none of which made Boone money) was "You promote your ideas and Boone will promote his". The wording left me with the impression that "if you do not attack Boone's ideas, we will not attack yours".

I was left with the very clear impression that Boone was totally uninterested in solving problems and was just manipulating to make himself more money.


I would agree that his plan is flawed but I do not believe that an 81 year old man who has given away a billion dollars more or less and has an independently wealthy wife - is too concerned about making more money? Perhaps he wants more money to give away.

Below is an excerpt from the pickens plan discussion board dated July 30, 2008. The discussions are not of the quality of TOD but are wide ranging.

"My company, 7L Energy markets a product called the GESPER, which stands for Green Energy Surge Suppression & Energy Reducer. We have years of testing, many testimonials, and even an independent test done by Northrop Grumman. Our process is pretty simple and our warranty is pretty clear, we will lower your electrical usage by a minimum of ten percent or we will refund your purchase price. I've been involved in this company for over a year now, and have never had to buy back one unit."

an 81 year old man who has given away a billion dollars more or less

Oklahoma State football has been the largest recipient of his "charity", about a quarter billion. Then he financed the "Swift Boat" ads in the 2004 election.

Much of his charitable giving does not impress me as contributing to the public good (some does). He wants to buy the pleasure of OSU beating OU. That is his pleasure he wants and he has the $$$ to do it (with subsidies from the IRS). Only a multi-billionaire could spend a quarter billion on football.

As another multi-billionaire once stated "After a while, money is just a way of keeping score". And we both know how competitive T Boone Pickens is.


".... he financed the "Swift Boat" ads in the 2004 election."

uber good ole boy speak with forked tongue.

Too much emphasis is being placed on electricity generation. The "Global Warming" hoax is mostly responsible for this.

What the US and the World should be focused on is the liquid fueled transportation sector. Efforts should be made to:

1. Electrify the transportation sector.
2. Open up off limit areas for oil exploration.
3. Increase the biofuel mandate.
4. Replace oil based electricity generation and heating with alternatives.

As far as Pickens' plan to replace gasoline cars and trucks with CNG. It would be better to build battery powered cars and trucks, and leave the natural gas infrastructure in place for electricity and heating.

It would be better to build battery powered cars and trucks,

On one point I agree. Abandon all of the "Drive or Starve" Suburbs and Exurbs, full of Republicans (existing battery technology will not serve their needs) and move them into walkable communities (almost all Ds) where a GEM (and good shoes, a bicycle and good public transit) is all you need. by Chrysler/Fiat

Best Hopes for efficient Non-Oil Transportation,


Gemcar is more of a niche market vehicle. The first mass produced practical (Model T) electric appears to be the Mitsubishi iMiEV.

The car reportedly has enough range and speed (100 miles and 90 MPH) to support suburban Republicans.

LiFePO4 batteries have been on the market for some time and work well enough to support commuting.

Unfortunately, there are STILL no practical Lithium powered EVs at your local dealer yet, but it's not because the technology is lacking. I'm sure we will see some in the next few years.

There are at least 2 GEMs in my neighborhood and I see them periodically. Very practical here.

It is questionable if the Mitsubishi meets US safety standards (note no US introduction planned) and obese Americans can simply NOT fit inside it (TINY). I wonder if it has air conditioning ? (I doubt it, too large a current draw).

A good Republican SUV driving Suburbanite would not be caught in one !

Just as the Prius sold almost exclusively to Democrats and Independents, I suspect that the Mitsubishi will not sell to Republicans in "Drive or Starve" America (if it is offered here)..


According to Mitsubishi's president, the iMiEV will be marketed in the US (left hand drive and all).

And yes the car has heating and air conditioning.

And speaking of SUVs, GM reportedly has a plug-in version in the works.

Peak Oil (as in the peak, May 2005 or July 2008) will be a distant memory by the time even 25% of vehicles are EVs.

It is news to me that they are going to sell them here. Glad to know that.

But you will not find many Republicans with a Japanese mini-car (have you ever seen one ? TINY is the only word that fits). Bicycle riding (hint: not obese) Sierra Club members shorter than 5'9" will buy a few.

I suspect that Sarah Palin will not get the Mitsubishi EV owner vote in the 2012 Republican primaries.

As I stated, suburbs and Exurbs are going to be a poor match for EVs. The GM SUV will be a hybrid, not an EV.

Best Hopes for Republican neighbors in the inner cities,


We do have one Republican in my neighborhood in an older home (1840s) with a "tilt". The joke is that everything leans to the left in that house except the politics :-)

"Peak Oil (as in the peak, May 2005 or July 2008) will be a distant memory by the time even 25% of vehicles are EVs.

While this may be true, what's important is will transport be able to still function when Peak Oil is a distant memory. If you are talking about a time with 50% or 25% of todays oil supply 25% EV would be OK, if the other vehicles are PHEV or high mpg ICE vehicles.

The transition to all ICE vehicles being hybrids with some EV range could be rapid once high liquid fuel prices become permanent. Once the vehicle fleet is using a lot less fuel higher prices won't have as big an impact on the economy, but will accelerate the conversion from mainly liquid oil based fuels to electricity. We may never have more than 25% of vehicles EV but if the rest are PHEV's with a 100km EV range and only use a few gallons of E85 per year it won't matter.

Your argument "As I stated, suburbs and Exurbs are going to be a poor match for EVs " is only true with todays EV's and assuming that people will not be able to recharge at work. Less expensive batteries, is likely to change those assumptions.

The transition to all ICE vehicles being hybrids with some EV range could be rapid once high liquid fuel prices become permanent

Hardly with a fleet turnover of about 17 years in 2007 and 20+ today (26 years by quick back of envelope). Any fleet turnover will be slow.

In 1974, there was a sudden consumer demand for fuel efficient cars and the models were simply not available. Some Japanese cars meet consumer demand, so quotas were placed on Japanese imports.

Moral is that there will be a multi-year delay between consumer demand and market supply.

So what you say may be largely true by 2030, but not much sooner and quite possibly later.

And this assumes that the infrastructure of Suburbia will be supported during the changeover.

Best Hopes for Urban Rail & TOD,


PS: That "100 km" range is under ideal conditions (typically). Add air conditioning or heating, lights (after dark) or rain (increased aero resistance & wipers + lights) will drop that 100 km range. Hybrids driven by Suburbanites will burn more than a few gallons of E85/year.

I think the average around city/suburban daily travel would be <40 miles round trip( 300 days x 40=12,000 miles). For most of those people IF they can re-charge at work or shops/restaurants/ sports events a plug-in Prius would travel most of the distance EV in mode. Toyota was planning to open a second plant in US in 2008 when Prius' were back-ordered, so it seems likely in 1 year they could substantially increase production. Producers of Li batteries seem to be greatly expanding capacity, and most car manufactures have plans to start PHEV or EV manufacturing in modest numbers.

Whether it's adding more buses, building more trains or trams or expanding new PHEV or EV production these all take several years under normal circumstances. As <7 year old vehicles travel about 50% of the VMT( this may be <8 or 9 years now) its really a question of how quickly present vehicle model lines, especially HEV's can convert to PHEV lines( EV are totally different so would be slower).

It's not difficult to envisage a response less than occurred in WWII, but faster than the response of industry to switching to SUV's and light trucks. I am not sure if any vehicle manufacturers have more than one shift/day or have week-end production, it's not as though there is a shortage of vehicle manufacturing lines or skilled labor, or materials.

One critical question is will the economy withstand a sudden oil price rise sufficiently high to stimulate this transition. In 2008 oil products accounted for 6% of the GDP, but this was in the middle of a banking crisis, and total energy costs were 10% of GDP. I think it's a similar question for expansion of mass-transit, if the economy remains in a recession it will be much slower for the transition away from oil either to EV or to mass-transit.

If we have more of a crisis situation such as the loss of 50% world production in a few months or years, then will need a WWII type response with gasoline rationing, a total switch to PHEV and EV vehicle production(3 shifts), accelerated crushing of older vehicles and a rapid expansion of mass transit/ car pooling, 4 day work weeks, Sunday closings etc.

Yes and no. Almost all of your statements are quite possible.

One note: recharging at work, shopping, etc. will require MASSIVE infrastructure investments (money better spent on mass transit IMO). Vaguely I remember 4.x parking spaces for every car in the USA. And mid-day recharging will definitely raise the peak demand.

IMO, near universal mid-day recharging is not a worthy goal.

Best Hopes,


We are still increasing our population with no substantial talk of limiting it. We are still funding NASA, trips to the moon and the world's largest war and spy machine when we should be spending all our government technology research dollars on replacing fossil fuels. I wish I was one of those who could be merrily optimistic about our fate.

We are still increasing our population with no substantial talk of limiting it.

We don't need to. Total fertility rates are dropping like rocks anyway. For instance, India's total fertility has dropped from 6 children per woman in the 50-ies to 2.75 children today, and it is still dropping.

In 1950, most of the world outside Europe had rates above 4. Now such high rates are exclusive to African countries, except for Gaza, Afghanistan, Iraq and Timor-Lieste. (Armed conflicts seem to create high fertility rates. The African countries that are highest are the most violent.)

Back to shareholder rights. Is Boone getting bored with the Pickens Plan?

I got an email from Mr. Pickens today explaining his side of the story:

From the desk of T. Boone Pickens

Army --

A very quick note to discuss one issue with you: my wind farm project in Pampa, Texas. There have been a lot of media stories about it, many of which misinterpreted my future plans. I want to be very clear with you that I am delaying, not cancelling, the project.

This misreporting is no doubt being fueled by those aggressively trying to convince Congress and the American public that wind and solar power can’t contribute significantly to solving our energy problems. They are wrong.

I think the Bloomberg article pasted below will help clarify exactly where things are. The difficult economic situation in the U.S.—and around the world—is driving this decision, as is the need for new transmission lines in place, not any loss of support for wind energy in America, as some may have you believe.

Renewable energy is—and always will be—an important part of the Pickens Plan and will help our continued march towards energy independence. I know many of you have asked for an explanation which I appreciate and you should always feel free to ask me anything.

I cannot ever thank you enough for your continued support for the Pickens Plan.

T. Boone

- T. Boone Pickens

Texas Wind Project Won't Be Canceled
By Daniel Whitten

July 8 (Bloomberg) -- Billionaire investor T. Boone Pickens said today that he is delaying, not canceling, a $10 billion wind energy project in Texas.

The so-called Pampa project will be postponed until 2013 when Texas is expected to complete a $4.9 billion transmission line, Pickens said in Washington today. News reports yesterday that he was ending the project are wrong, he said.

"I didn't cancel it," said Pickens, 81, the chairman of Dallas-based BP Capital LLC. "Financing is tough right now so what is going to happen is it's going to be pushed back a year or two." Pickens spoke after a press conference to promote legislation intended to encourage the development of natural gas-powered vehicles.

Pickens last year began promoting a national energy plan that relies on domestically produced natural gas to cut U.S. dependence on foreign oil. Electricity generated by gas and coal could be replaced with wind and solar power once the grid is improved.

His Mesa Power LLP ordered 667 wind turbines from General Electric Co. last year for delivery, he said, starting in the first quarter of 2011. The turbines, which can produce up to 1,000 megawatts, may be installed "in Minnesota or someplace else," he said. Or he may just "put 'em in the garage," he said.

Pickens said in a Bloomberg Television interview yesterday that it is necessary to build a 21st century power grid to advance wind energy, which he said could happen quickly.

"I'm in the business and we are going to build the Pampa project," he said after the press conference today.

The wind does blow in the Pampa area. Google Amarillo dust storm. One of the dust storms was the inspiration for the Woody Guthrie song "So Long Its Been good to Know You" An Amarillo scientist H. H. Finnell was largely responsible for instituting agricultural practices to reduce the frequency of such storms. His papers are archived at Boone's favorite college, OSU.

The sweethearts they sat in the dark and they sparked.

They hugged and they kissed in that dusty old dark.

They sighed and they cried and they hugged and they kissed,

But instead of marriage they talked like this: Honey,

So long, it's been good to know yuh;